Maybe I missed something, but I was wondering: if an officer says “Stop!” and you do not comply (you continue walking, you turn and run, you refuse to stop doing whatever it is you are doing), how much force are they entitled to use against you? Specifically, if you run, can they shoot or are they forced to chase you and bring you down?
Graham v. Connor: Force against a fleeing or resisting suspect may be employed based on several factors, including:
1) the severity of the crime suspected (a murderer warrants more force than a pickpocket),
2) the level of threat to others (how many people is he shoving aside? is he likely to commit more crimes, and what kind?),
3) the persistence and nature of the suspect’s resistance (he just bolted for the third time, or he’s a prison escapee, or he punched the cop),
4) whether the police gave warning (“stop or I’ll shoot!” brandishing a nightstick obviously), and
5) the severity of the force (merely tackling him versus shooting him) and its randomness (a gun or tear gas can hit a bystander as well, a taser can cause complications for a suspect with health problems).
More specifically, cops may use LETHAL force against a fleeing suspect ONLY if they reasonably believe the suspect “poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others” (and that there is no non-lethal way to prevent the escape and/or harm). Tennessee v. Garner. This could come up when:
– they’ve threatened someone with such harm;
– they’ve committed or are committing a crime involving such harm; or
– they’re escaping in a manner that is recklessly indifferent to the possibility of such harm (Scott v. Harris: the cops were permitted to run an escaping suspect off the road due to the reckless way he was driving in populated areas).
In the situation you describe, for them to shoot at you if you flee, they would probably have to a) either suspect you of murder or similar, or that you will do such act if you get away, b) warn you that they plan to shoot, c) have no better option to stop you, AND d) be at low risk of hitting someone else.
As another example, in the above car stop, had the cop immediately shoved the driver to the car hood as soon as he was out of the car, it would have been outside his authority (the driver was at that point only guilty of a traffic infraction, posed no apparent threat, and had shown no resistance). So no force at all was employed at all until the driver made threatening comments and gestures at the cop. That spiked the second and third factors enough to warrant some minor force (but only minor; even a taser would have probably still been too much without at least a warning).
As yet another example, the famed macing of an Occupy crowd: If you watch the full video of the event, the Occupy group had just interfered in the arrest of some of their number (factor 1: they were all engaging in a criminal act, although a minor one) by circling the cops (albeit seated) and stating that they would “allow you to leave” IF the cops did not continue the arrest (factors 2 and 3: threat of unlawful imprisonment, with implications of worse if the cops tried to walk past them, and resistance to a cop engaging in lawful duties). In response, the cops repeatedly warned the protesters that they would employ the mace (factor 4), and did not employ something with greater harm (factor 5: they also had tasers and clubs, but went to their least dangerous option instead). So despite the outrage afterwards, the cops were within the bounds of the law.
Thank you very much for the clear and complete explanation! Now I want to check out those cases you mentioned…
I would think it would be a pretty hard sell that someone fleeing poses an imminent danger to the cops chasing him. Bystanders are, of course, another matter, especially if he’s in a vehicle.
what can they do if you don’t change pace or even react in any way, something that must happen daily when you consider such things as iPods and other devices with earbuds?
I gotta say, it doesn’t look like an insulin syringe to me. Maybe it’s a brand thing, but all the ones I’ve used have had bright orange caps, rather than green.
Also I wouldn’t want to rely on a bag of loose candy for lows. Not only is that kind of thing hard to calibrate, but the main reason I don’t snarf the Airheads I use is that I’ve trained myself not to think of them as candy.
Not that any of that has to do with legal issues.
The senior officer reminds me of Dr. Cox.
I was thinking Buford T. Justice.